6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

The Arctic and U.S. National Security

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

The Polar Institute's The Arctic and U.S. National Security symposium provided a timely and important opportunity to explore and promote Arctic security discussions at a critical time for the region. The symposium included policy leaders currently drafting branch-specific Arctic strategies, solicited insight from senior Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Commerce leadership, and elicited guidance and perspective from individuals representing the State of Alaska, industry, and research communities. The resulting dialogue provided productive policy and operational insight at the dawn of the 116th United States Congress.

 

Selected Quotes

 

Michael Pawlowski

“It is impossible for the United States to project sea power in the Arctic with a polar ice-breaking fleet composed of only one operational heavy ice breaker – the Polar Star, which is more than 40 years old, a decade past its intended 30-year service life – and one medium ice breaker... A fleet of polar security cutters would provide assured year-round access in the polar regions. They will allow us to continue to engage with our fellow Arctic nations, our allies, and our strategic competitors.”
 
“We need a government-wide approach to the Arctic to make the Arctic a national priority. We need a greater physical presence in the Arctic, both military and civilian, and we need infrastructure in the Arctic to support that presence.”
 
“All of us, working together, can help Americans understand that it is not just about the Arctic, but it is about our Arctic –  the American Arctic – and whether the United States wants to be a leader in the region or cede that position to other Arctic, and more importantly, non-Arctic,  nations.”
 

Admiral Karl L. Schultz

“China is committed to a future in the Arctic. Their influence is only going to expand. Watching China’s behavior across the globe, it’s hard to not see its activities and interests in the Arctic as anything but an overt claim to power, pure and simple. Facing the surge in global strategic competition with increasingly sophisticated resource adversaries, the Coast Guard finds itself weighing the words of Secretary Mattis… ‘cooperating where we can, and vigorously competing where we must, to promote American values and influence around the globe.’ For the Coast Guard, the Arctic is certainly on the ‘vigorously competing’ end of the continuum.” 
 
“Without presence, diplomacy and cooperation are absent, or empty. Without presence, our regulatory roles, our governance, and international agreements become hollow policies. In the Arctic region, presence equals influence. The truth is, if we aren’t present, if we don’t know the environment today, our competitors will.”
 
“While we focus our efforts on creating a peaceful and collaborative environment in the Arctic, we’re also responding to the impacts of increased competition in this strategically important region… Our continued presence will enable us to reinforce positive opportunities and mitigate negative consequences today and tomorrow.”  
 
Admiral Paul F. Zukunft
 
“The one thing we need to do is apply relentless pressure to the Arctic that can survive one political administration to the next.” 
 
“We need to deal with the consequences of a changing climate and the patterns that are developing. How do we think long-term for a change in climate? We have a number of areas that are vulnerable to a rising sea level, and what investments are being made now to address these long-term consequences?”
 
“A big challenge right now is how do you model ice-melt in Antarctica? There are some areas that are accumulating snow pack and others that are losing it. We have a bit of a data void right now in terms of what the model is, what is the impact, and how soon that might be.”
 

 

Agenda
 

8:00am: Registration and Coffee (Sponsored by Doyon, Limited)

8:30am: Welcome Remarks

  • Dr. Michael Sfraga, Director, Polar Institute, & Director, Global Risk & Resilience Program, Wilson Center
  • Jane Harman, Director, President, and CEO, Wilson Center
     

8:35am: Keynote Address

  • Mr. Michael Pawlowski, Chief of Staff, Office of Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
  • Introduction: Dr. Michael Sfraga, Director, Polar Institute, & Director, Global Risk & Resilience Program, Wilson Center
     

9:00am: Roles and Missions for a New Arctic

  • Admiral Karl L. Schultz, Commandant, US Coast Guard
  • Introduction and Moderator: Dr. Michael Sfraga, Director, Polar Institute, & Director, Global Risk & Resilience Program, Wilson Center
     

9:30am: Panel 1: Strategies for a New Arctic

  • Mr. Shannon Jenkins, Senior Arctic Policy Advisor, US Coast Guard
  • Ms. Iris Ferguson, HQE, Senior Advisor, HAF/A3, US Air Force
  • Mr. Jeffrey Barker, Deputy Branch Head, Policy and Posture, OPNAV N5I5B, US Navy
  • Mr. David Kennedy, Senior Arctic Advisor, NOAA
  • Moderator: Dr. Michael Sfraga, Director, Polar Institute, & Director, Global Risk & Resilience Program, Wilson Center
     

10:30am: Coffee Break (Sponsored by Doyon, Limited)

11:00am: The U.S. in the Arctic: Challenges and Perspectives

  • Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, former Commandant, US Coast Guard
  • Introduction: Dr. Michael Sfraga, Director, Polar Institute, & Director, Global Risk & Resilience Program, Wilson Center
     

11:30am: VIP Lunch (Sponsored by ASRC Federal)

  • Conversation with Mr. David Sanger, New York Times National Security Correspondent, and former Distinguished Fellow, Wilson Center; Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, former Commandant, US Coast Guard; and Mr. Jim Townsend, Global Fellow, Polar Institute, Wilson Center, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO
  • Introduction: Dr. Michael Sfraga, Director, Polar Institute, & Director, Global Risk & Resilience Program, Wilson Center
     

1:15pm: Panel 2: Policy, Research, and Development Perspectives on America’s Arctic

  • Mayor Bryce Ward, Fairbanks North Star Borough
  • Dr. Larry Hinzman, Vice Chancellor for Research, University of Alaska Fairbanks, President, International Arctic Science Committee
  • Dr. Bob McCoy, Director, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Mr. Bill Monet, CEO, Akima
  • Mr. Marcel J. Lettre II, Vice President, National Security, Lockheed Martin Corporation; former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence
  • Dr. Holly Dockery, Senior Manager, Global Engineered Security Solutions, Sandia National Laboratories
  • Moderator: Mr. Brian Rogers, Chancellor Emeritus, University of Alaska Fairbanks; former Chairman, Board of Governors, UArctic
     

2:45pm: Coffee Break  (Sponsored by GeoNorth Information Services)

3:15pm: Panel 3: Charting a Path Forward for America’s Security in the Arctic

  • Mr. Jim Townsend, Global Fellow, Polar Institute, Wilson Center; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO
  • Mrs. Sherri Goodman, Senior Fellow, Polar Institute, Wilson Center; former U.S. Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Environmental Security)
  • General Church Kee (ret.), Director, Arctic Domain Awareness Center
  • Moderator: Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, former Commandant, US Coast Guard
     

4:30pm: Concluding Remarks

  • Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, former Commandant, US Coast Guard
  • Dr. Michael Sfraga, Director, Polar Institute, & Director, Global Risk & Resilience Program, Wilson Center
     

5:00pm: Reception in the Wilson Center Memorial Hallway (Sponsored by Akima)

 

 

 

 

 

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